Maui Arts & Entertainment

FirstLight Film Festival Begins Wednesday, Dec. 20

December 14, 2017, 11:34 AM HST
* Updated December 14, 11:36 AM
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The Maui Film Festival’s 19th annual FirstLight film festival will take place at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center with over 10 first-time on Maui feature films.

The festival will run for four nights starting with Opening Night on Wednesday, Dec. 20, Centerpiece Screenings on Saturday, Dec. 23 and Tuesday, Dec. 26, and Closing Night films on Wednesday, Dec. 27. (See film schedule and synopses below).

“For the first time in many years, all of this year’s FirstLight screenings will be films not previously released on Maui or available on BluRay, DVD or in any other way until they’ve lit up FirstLight 2017,” said Festival Director and founder Barry Rivers.

Opening Night films will include Director Alexander Payne’s newest film “Downsizing” starring Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig and Jason Sudekis, playing Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 5 p.m. Also on Wed, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. will be first-time director Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird,” a record breaking — most (170+) 100% critically acclaimed ratings record holder, starring Saoirse Ronan, Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalfe.

Rivers also announced screening of Executive Producer Angelina Jolie’s, “Breadwinner,” a globally, critically-acclaimed animated film that reveals the true courage of young women, when faced with seemingly overwhelming odds, who nonetheless overcome their fear and strive to live lives of courage, purpose and respect for people and for all life.


Rivers also promises another “surprise, or two, maybe three” in addition to the films noted above.


“This year’s FirstLight is a return to FirstLight’s roots when, starting in 1999 and for the next decade plus, FirstLight only showed films that were — while also screening in New York City and Los Angeles and Aspen, at their Academy Screenings — were not yet available to enjoy on Maui. All of which adds a certain sizzle to this year’s event for all to enjoy and, as importantly, share together with friends and family alongside members of major film industry guilds,” Rivers said.

Since its inaugural year in 1999, the Maui Film Festival has presented more than 500 Academy Award® nominated films, which have won more than 200 Oscars among them including, with the exception of “Birdman,” every single Academy Award winning Best Picture and awards in all other categories as well.

Admission to FirstLight is open to the public and can be enjoyed by either purchasing a Special VIP 4-Film FastPass, which provides entry to four films for $12 per film ($48 for the pass) and can be used individually or shared with family and friends.


Admission is also possible with the purchase of single tickets. For anyone 17 & Over single tickets are $14. For those ages 13 to 16, to PG & PG-13 films are $10 each. Those ages 12 & under will be admitted free to PG rated films and $10 to PG-13 films.

Complimentary admission is also available to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that presents each year’s Academy Awards® and many major film industry guilds.

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017

Matt Damon gets downsized in Director Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS) new film DOWNSIZING also starring Kristin Wiig and Christof Waltz. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

“Downsizing” (135 min. Rated R) at 5 p.m.

Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig star in Alexander Payne’s science-fiction comedy about humans who get miniaturized to both shrink their daily dose of stress an help save the planet. Variety called it “A rare thing” and a “resonant crowd pleaser for grown-ups.” The Hollywood Reporter added “Captivating, funny” and “impossible to anticipate where it’s headed, this is a deeply humane film that, like the best Hollywood classics, feels both entirely of its moment and timeless.” Film Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

“Lady Bird” (94 min. Rated R) at 8 p.m.

Indie icon Greta Gerwig directs her first feature, starring and co-starring Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet in this delightful, warm hearted and quirky exploration of a young woman’s what’s-in-a-name coming-of-age flowering. It just set a new record for the most 100% critic reviews on Village Voice called it “A heartfelt coming-of-age story that perfectly captures the bittersweet transition from adolescence to dawning adulthood in ways sentimental without being saccharine and emotional without being contrived as it reveals life as it’s actually lived.” Film courtesy of A24.

Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017

“Human Flow” (118 min. Rated PG-13) at 2 p.m.

Perhaps the most important film of the year, directed by world renowned dissident Chinese artist Al Weiwei, about the most challenging problem of the 20th Century — refugees in search of peace and a place to call home. This visceral work of cinema is a testament to the unassailable human spirit and poses one of the questions that will define this century: Will our global society emerge from fear, isolation, and self-interest and choose a path of openness, freedom, and respect for humanity? Courtesy of Amazon Studios and Participant Media.

Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg avoid the paparazzi in director Ridley Scott’s “All The Money In The World,” Courtesy Sony / TriStar.

“All the Money in the World” (Running Time TBD. Rated R) at 5 p.m.

With three Golden Globe nominations to its credit — Ridley Scott, Best Director; Michelle Williams, Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama and Christopher Plummer Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Drama — this potent dramatic thriller, explores the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather to pay the ransom. It’s the ultimate exploration of love over money. Courtesy Sony and TriStar Pictures.

“Breathe” (118 min. Rated PG-13) at 8 p.m.

Acclaimed actor Andy Serkis (“Lord of the Rings,” “Planet of the Apes”) makes his directorial debut with inspiring true love story of Robin and Diana Cavendish, an adventurous couple who triumph over adversity in a heartwarming celebration of human possibility. Starring Academy Award® nominee Andrew Garfield and Golden Globe winner Claire Foy from “The Crown.” The Hollywood Reporter wrote “a touchingly sweet portrait” of life long love. Courtesy of Bleecker Street.

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017

Michelle Williams still frame from the Angelina Jolie produced animated feature that is a story of female empowerment set against the real life exploits of a brave young women in pre-war Afghanistan. Courtesy or GKIDS.

“Breadwinner” (93 min. PG-13) at 2 p.m.

Angelina Jolie executive produced this recently nominated Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, which is a powerful and intense real world story, directed by Nora Twomey, that keeps you from marveling at its gorgeously animated and visually captivating story of female empowerment — as exemplified in the courage of one young girl, living in Afghanistan under the Taliban in the lead-up to the 2001 US invasion — who leaves home to take an epic journey to find her father. Renowned film critic Leonard Maltin raved that “American families deserve to see this excellent..fresh, and relevant as any movie, of 2017.” Courtesy of GKIDS

“Hostiles” (127 min. Rated R) at 5 p.m.

Academy Award® winner Christian Bale stars alongside Oscar® nominee Rosamund Pike, Spirit Award winner Ben Foster, phenom Timothée Chalamet and Wes Studi in this persistently powerful Western redemption tale set against the most stunningly photographed American West you’ve likely ever seen on film. In it a Native American chief and his family travel from Arizona to their ancestral home in Montana. Directed by Scott Cooper, this powerful film searches for signs of hope arising from the ashes of mistrust and mistreatment on a perilous journey. Courtesy of Entertainment Studios.

Margot Robbie stars as ill fated potential Olympic figure skating champion Tonya Harding whose back-up crew attacked her arch rival Nancy Kerrigan on the eve of the Games. Courtesy of Neon.

“I, Tonya” (119 min. Rated R) at 8 p.m.

With Golden Globe nominations for Margot Robbie and Allison Janney and Best Picture, and based on the real life tale ice skaterTonya Harding’s team’s efforts to derail Nancy Kerrigan, her key competitor’s, shared quest to win Olympic Gold in Figure Skating at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. Playlist raved “A knockout! The ‘Goodfellas of Figure Skating.” Rolling Stone added “holds a mirror up to the America most of us dismiss — and makes us see ourselves reflected in it. ‘I, Tonya’ is funny as hell, but the pain is just as real. You’ll laugh till it hurts.” Film Courtesy of Neon.

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017

“The Florida Project” (115 min. Rated R) at 5 p.m.

Willem Dafoe was just nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, and stars alongside Valerie Cotto and seven-year-old revelation Brooklynn Prince, in this candy colored cinematic universe from director Sean Baker. Set in the iconic world of Florida’s kitschy visual landscape, this empathetic, bittersweet and heartbreaking and hyper-colored slice of ‘extended family’ life is this one-in-a-million family ‘dreamedy’ (not a typo). Critic Joshua Axelrod raved “It was equal parts whimsical child fantasy and very real adult drama and it simultaneously broke my heart and opened my eyes!” Film Courtesy of A24.

Jessica Chasten stars in “Molly’s Game,” a fast life story of the woman at the center of a huge stakes, A-List players poker game Courtesy STX Entertainment.

“Molly’s Game” (140 min. Rated R) at 8 p.m.

Director and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin tells the based-on-a-true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, daring entrepreneur who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe. Golden Globe revealed nominations for Jessica Chastain, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama and Aaron Sorkin for Best Screenplay in a Motion Picture. Film Courtesy of STX Entertainment

For complete complimentary guild member admission details and to view trailers and synopses for all films, visit the MFF website.

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